The training programme has been specifically developed to provide our Early Stage Researchers with the best possible learning and training experience. The training programme involves the traditional elements of self-directed original research — under the direction of our research supervisors — augmented by specialised, structured training through both network wide training and local training.
A note on credits: Although the Bologna Accord does not give an ECTS credit range for doctoral education, CeralPath has been formulated based on the University College Dublin structured system of 30 ECTS credits for the programme. The mandatory training components comprise 28 credits from network-wide training events, while candidates will be recommended by their doctoral studies panel to take 2-5 additional credits locally.
The majority of the training is network-wide, exposing the Early Stage Researchers to some of the best academic and industrial expertise in cereal pathology, breeding and bioactive product development.
The programme is structured to concurrently train the early Stage Researchers in sustainable and innovative disease control. The structure is devised such that all researchers spend a significant amount of time together and be trained in the required basics at the outset of the project.
Within the first 6 months of the programme, all of the Early Stage Researchers will have completed their induction training and innovation training and will have laid the foundations for their research career development training. They will also begin their training on policy, economics and society and their specialist training.
Induction training will be hosted by University College Dublin.
This is a key training event where Professor Fiona Doohan and Dr Angela Feechan will host a one-day course on the concept, challenges and opportunities in integrated disease control, followed by a one-day course on data management, scientific communication and presentation.
On day three, all of the programme beneficiaries and programme partners will attend a two-day event where each academic and industrial partner will introduce their area of research, the project they are supervising and their vision for the future of cereal disease control.
By equipping students with the skills necessary for creative thinking and innovation at the outset of the programme, CerealPath aims to imbue students with the ability to 'think outside the box' and exploit and disseminate their research outputs to the maximum effect. Training in innovation benefits from the expertise that currently exists at the UCD Innovation Academy.
CerealPath recognises the impact of policy and society on cereal production and vice versa, GM production in Europe being a classic example of how public opinion can influence policy and cereal disease control and of how scientific communication is important in informing public debates.
With this in mind, CerealPath includes specific training on the how agriculture, society, economics and policy impact upon each other. The Swiss Plant Science Centre has developed a range of specific 'schools' in sustainable agriculture for graduate students and early stage researchers, including a new winter school in 'Agriculture and Society' and, under the auspices of the ETH Zurich; they will deliver this school for the CEREALPATH researchers in early 2016.
It is very important that early Stage Researchers have a clear understanding of the importance, economic impact and biology of cereal diseases and of the scientific tools available to innovate in this field.
To ensure this is the case, at the outset of their training students will take a core three-day module that educates them in the importance of cereal diseases, the biology of plant-pathogen interactions, and the scientific and technological tools available for researchers in the field of cereal disease control (bioinformatics, cereal genomics, pathogen genomics).
This module will be delivered by the John Innes Centre (in collaboration with the University of East Anglia). They have world-renowned expertise in cereal science and pathology. This module benefits from existing resources developed for a specialist MSc course in Plant Genetics and Crop Improvement, the UK Wheat Improvement Strategic Programme (WISP) and other industry and academic expertise within the ETN.
As part of the same training component, students will obtain training in field evaluation of disease and agrochemical efficacy, sustainable pesticide usage and disease diagnosis, delivered by Limagrain UK Ltd, Teagasc, BASF and the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine.
These field workshops and courses will be accredited by UCD. This component of the training is extremely important, as although the focus of the training is sustainable and innovative cereal disease control, pesticides are still an extremely important component of disease control at farm level. Thus CEREALPATH will ensure that ESRs have an appreciation of their role in integrated disease control. This training also ensures that ESRS gain the skills necessary for disease detection and diagnosis and that equivalent standards are used across all projects and carried forwards through their careers, thus improving the coherence and equivalence from region to region in disease diagnostic standards.
As part of a Nordic collaboration (NOVA), Kobenhavns Universitet have developed a workshop that includes training on biological disease control. Building on this and using other expertise from within CerealPath (e.g. JLU, UCD, Trinity College Dublin, Envirotech), they have developed a network-wide training programme on biological disease control. This network-wide training event will comprise a mini-symposium, which will train ESRs in the principles, advances and practical aspects of biological disease control.
Specialist training events will be open to the wider scientific community, including industry, academia and government agencies.
CerealPath is very lucky to have the input and support of a wide variety of programme partners, including research institutes, industry collaborators and government and agency partners.
The purpose of the secondment is provide each researcher with access to complementary services, facilities and supports and to provide expose to industry activity. Full details of the secondments is listed with each project descriptor.
Over the course of the three-year studentship, all Early Stage Researchers will participate in an annual symposium. The purpose of these symposia is to facilitate collaboration, innovation, communication and exploitation or results.
Each year a different beneficiary will host the annual symposium.
In addition to the programme-specific meetings and symposia, all Early Stage Researchers will attend at least two international conferences, one in their specialist area and one in the general field of plant pathology, cereal biology, plant biology or mycology.
All students will have significant career training; as part of the personal research career development plan, students will be trained to tailor their career and ensure they have the skills needed to develop their careers. This training will be carried out in conjunction with their supervisors and other advisors. All of the Early Stage Researchers will have access to the resources available within the UCD Learning and Development Centre and the appropriate local services, facilities and supports.
While most training is network-wide, researchers will be embedded in local research training, supervised by academia and industry. Where necessary, the programme also provides for localised language, orientation and foundation training (e.g. in fundamental underpinning science, statistics etc.).
Localised training will also include up-skilling in communication and presentation. Key elements of the local training are:
High quality guidance and supervision by a principal supervisor and guidance by a doctoral studies panel. The expertise and facilities available in all beneficiaries ensure that ESRs get state of the art training.
Interaction with local research groups. This includes participation in regular group seminars, meetings and national conferences. This interaction will ensure that they get a local perspective regarding their research programme, benefit from cognate local expertise and use their international training experience to the benefit of local doctoral students.
All ESRs will be registered in universities/research institutes with strong structured graduate training in plant science and microbiology and ESRs will have local access to a suite of accredited modules/training activities. Provision is made for such training within the structure, both in terms of ECTS and workload modelling.